Home | News    Saturday 1 May 2004

U.N. official: More effort from Sudan’s government, plus US$140 million needed to address Darfur humanitarian crisis

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KHARTOUM, May 01, 2004 (AP) — A U.N. official Saturday urged the Sudanese government to do more to end the humanitarian crisis in western Sudan , where a conflict has displaced about one million people and killed thousands.

James Morris, the executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, also said more than $140 million was needed to meet humanitarian needs in Darfur.

Morris and a U.N. team he headed Friday ended a three-day tour of Darfur’s crisis hit three states, where hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from homes by fighting between rebels into nearby cities, dry river beds and across the border into neighboring Chad.

"This is surely one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world," Morris said during a press conference in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. He is expected to submit a report of his findings to Sudanese authorities and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Morris said the situation in Darfur "will worsen dramatically" if security is not improved in the area and humanitarian agencies are not provided full access.

The U.S. State Department said Thursday a 28-member team of American aid experts would be granted visas by Sudan to enter the country and inspect humanitarian needs in Darfur, home to one-fifth of Sudan ’s 30 million people.

A conflict between Arab militias called the Janjaweed and non-Arab rebel groups began in February 2003 and has left thousands dead and displaced 900,000 refugees in Darfur’s three states. Another 100,000 have fled into neighboring Chad.

During his Darfur tour, Morris met displaced Sudanese, regional and federal officials, non-governmental organizations, U.N. agencies and donors.

Darfur represents a "very serious humanitarian crisis, and that people hope to go home but they needed security and protection," Morris said. He added that U.N. and various non-government organizations are ready to work with Sudanese authorities to address the situation.

"Sudan has to accelerate its efforts to address (and) control armed militias, provide security and protection for displaced people and facilitate humanitarian access," the U.N. team said in a statement issued at the end of its three-day tour.

Morris said displaced families were living in "difficult and unacceptable conditions and...continue to fear for their lives." His team had also received numerous reports of sexual abuse and harassment.

In Mornei, a Darfur city close to Sudan ’s border with Chad, Morris said 60,000 displaced people have "overwhelmed" the city are "almost completely reliant on outside assistance."

Health care in Mornei is "vastly over-stretched," "living conditions are abysmal, malnutrition rates among children are soaring and few if any are going to school," he added.

"This pattern appears to be repeated across Darfur."

The U.N. statement said a humanitarian crisis continued despite the Sudanese government’s signing of a cease-fire agreement April 8 with rebels belonging to the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.

In the statement, the U.N. appealed for extra resources, including staff, to handle the huge humanitarian task.

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